Special Report: Europe Trends— What Do Clients Want?

IrelandNow that travel to Europe is back on the rebound, we contacted several tour operators to see what clients are looking for in a tour.

David Costabile, associate director of product international for Collette Vacations, said that clients are looking for more unique experiences. “They [are not] satisfied with just a city tour and then leisure time,” he noted. “They want to delve into the culture of the region and truly experience the flavor of the region.”

Over at Tauck, Tom Armstrong agreed, adding that clients are looking for “authenticity and insider access.”

Steve Tracas at Vacation.com said that the current market is very deal driven. “Travelers are waiting for a good promotion or airfare to push them into traveling,” he said. “In terms of experiences, travelers crave authenticity more than ever. They want time to stroll local markets, dine in local restaurants, in addition to visiting the ‘must see’ sights.”

Marc Kazlauskas, president of Insight Vacations, feels that tours play into the relaxation of a vacation. “We are hearing from agents that escorted touring is seeing the best demand for 2010 then they have seen in years,” he said. “I think people are realizing that the best way to experience a destination is on an escorted tour with a tour director or traveling concierge that knows the locale, can speak the language and know where the hidden gems are.”

Guy Young, Uniworld’s president, has found a similar trend in river cruising. “Travelers are showing greater interest in purchasing travel product from trusted brands that deliver consistent quality and exclusive travel experiences,” he said. “Travelers expect Internet access on ships (staying in touch with family or business while on vacation), comfortable staterooms with luxury amenities, wellness (spa, massage, socializing), new dining experiences and cuisines, enriching on board and on shore activities and option to explore a port either as part of a group or explore on their own.”

Jennifer Halboth, marketing director for the Globus family of brands (Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways), has noticed a combining of different styles. “People are taking a real mix-and-match approach to personalizing their European experience,” she said. “[It] opens up lots of revenue potential for agents.  Agents can cross-sell from vacation to vacation (cruise this year, tour next year) or within the same vacation.” 

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Malaby was most recently a marketing communications manager for Tourism Australia, The Americas. More here.